June is Migraine Awareness Month

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June is Migraine Awareness Month, a critical period of focus on a medical condition that impacts an enormous number of individuals and households. This is especially true in Canada, where migraines are a prevalent issue. According to recent studies, migraines affect 25% of Canadian households. While this number may seem high, the reality of migraines is even more daunting. Within this 25%, between 1% and 2% of these individuals suffer from chronic migraines, a condition that involves having a headache for 15 or more days per month for at least three months. Chronic migraine is a severe neurological disorder that can disrupt lives, strain relationships, and affect a person’s ability to participate in daily activities.

One of the significant challenges in diagnosing and understanding migraines is that they do not show up on standard medical imaging tests, such as CT scans and MRIs. This can lead to frustration and fear for those experiencing the intense, often debilitating pain associated with migraines. The lack of visible evidence may also contribute to misconceptions and misunderstandings about the condition’s severity. The diagnosis of migraines relies primarily on symptoms and the patient’s history. People with migraines often experience severe, throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. This pain can last anywhere from hours to days and can be so severe that it interferes with daily activities. Associated symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraines are triggered by a range of factors, with the most common triggers being stress, hormonal changes, certain foods and drinks, sensory stimuli like bright lights or strong smells, changes in sleep patterns, and physical exertion. Each person’s trigger may vary, and part of managing migraines is learning what these triggers are and how to avoid them.

When it comes to treatment, migraines require a multifaceted approach. Medications are commonly used, both to prevent migraines from starting and to relieve symptoms once they’ve begun. These may include over-the-counter pain relievers, triptans designed specifically for migraines, and preventive medications for those with frequent or severe migraines. Non-pharmacological strategies also play a vital role in managing migraines. These include lifestyle changes, such as regular sleep and meal schedules, stress management techniques, avoidance of identified triggers, and regular physical activity. In some cases, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help patients cope with the impact of chronic migraines.

Migraine Awareness Month provides an important opportunity for us all to better understand the complexity of migraines and their impact on Canadians. Let’s use this time to raise awareness, share experiences, and work towards better treatments and support for those living with migraines. To learn more about migraines and the Move for Migraine campaign, visit migrainecanada.org. The website provides valuable resources, current research findings, and support for those struggling with migraines, as well as for their families and healthcare providers.

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